A rally in bank stocks has lifted the share market to a positive close, despite some disappointing earnings in other sectors, in the thick of company reporting season.

The All Ordinaries Index gained 0.4 per cent or 21 points to close at 5090 and the ASX 200 rose by 22 points to 5100.

Bank stocks led the way. NAB rallied by 1.8 per cent to $32.14 as investors digest its quarterly profits released yesterday.

Elsewhere in the sector, the bank and insurer in full year profits to $491 million.

Insurance earnings almost doubled, helped by a fall in claims but its bank business recorded a loss after it sold a portfolio of bad loans.

The company says it is now turned a corner after a major overhaul of its business.

Investors sold down BHP Billiton in their first chance to react to the big drop in profits announced after the close of trade yesterday.

It lost 2.2 per cent to close at $35.74 while its main rivals finished higher.

Rio Tinto added 9 cents and Fortescue Metals rose by 1 per cent.

Elsewhere in the resources sector the oil and to $38.10 despite a rise in half-year earnings on higher production and a fall in taxes.

Woodside says production has been boosted by the performance of its Pluto gas plant.

The chief executive Peter Coleman says he shares the over its failure to develop Browse Basin gas onshore.

The building products maker Boral rose by 2.3 per cent to $4.37.

It has posted a full-year loss, blaming restructuring costs, a weak construction market and the carbon tax for the result.

But the company kept its full-year dividend at 11 cents a share fully franked.

The Takeovers Panel has approved a revised rescue and the US-based Altamont consortium.

Billabong and the Altamont consortium had to revise their debt repayment deal after the panel signalled it would block the agreement.

Billabong shares rose by 0.9 per cent to 57 cents.

In the commodities, spot gold is higher at $US1368 an ounce, West Texas crude oil fell to $US104.89 a barrel and Tapis crude oil has edged up to $US116.67 a barrel.

The dollar is falling as investors wait for more guidance on the US Federal Reserve's plans to wind back its stimulus program.

A short time ago it was buying 90.3 US cents, 67.4 euro cents, 88.1 Japanese yen and 57.7 British pence.

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